Sunday, April 12, 2015

Guihob Hot Springs

Friday, January 9th

Trek to the Hungduan Rice Terraces.  

Hungduan Rice Terrace Vista

Art riding inside the Jeepney
Vista stops on the road to Hungduan

John and Marky on top of the Jeepney
Hungduan Rice Terrace Sign
Papa and Son

The trek down is not as strenuous as yesterday's and is mostly along the narrow, meandering, stone dikes framing the rice terraces. The uneven stone pathways vary  between 12” - 18” wide and are slippery with mud so I must pay close attention to my footing and balance. We hike down, edging along the terraces for an hour before the rain begins in ernest; cross over a bridge footpath in the valley and begin our ascent on the other side.

Walking along the rice terrace dikes

Stepping stones along the dikes

Planting Rice, Hungduan
Hungduan Rice Terraces in the rain

Hungduan Rice Terrace Vista
Everything is deliciously green, slick and lush and I am chilled when we arrive at the Guihob hot springs and  we all look forward to slipping into the warm sulphur water. When we arrive, we sign a simple guest book and our guide pays the modest fee (included in our “tour.”)

Sulphur turns my ring black
Guihob Hot Springs

Frigid river beside the hot springs

Guihob Hot Springs

My swimsuit is underneath my clothes and I slip out of my damp jeans and stow my gear under wooden benches protected from the drizzle by an open round tin roof shelter. The natural hot spring is dammed and a half dozen other bathers soak in the clear hot pool. The frigid river is diverted and rushes along side the hot springs compound. I am wearing my silver Mavericks Wave ring and I notice it has immediately turned black from the sulphur. We soak and visit with the other bathers for 30 minutes before drying off and eating our meager lunch under the shelter of a picnic area. My egg and cheese sandwich is pasty and cold but I chew it dutifully, knowing that I will need the energy in order to ascend to our jeepney high up on the cliff road beyond.

Mossy stepping stones
Stone stairway to Hungduan

We arrive back in Banaue mid afternoon and treat ourselves to afternoon coffees and hot chocolates at a local café. There are no Starbucks here and no other patrons in the cafe which is dark when we enter. The waitress turns on the lights and a small T.V. glows from a corner of the ceiling.  A science fiction movie is showing that is of some interest to John, Marky and Art and just like back home, we check our phones for wifi. There is a bakery next door and Art steps out to buy pastries and returns with the uninspired sweets. Although this gloomy cafe is a far cry from the trendy cafes back home, I feel an overwhelming contentment, sipping the warm drinks and nibbling on odd pastries in this remote mountain town with my extended family. Late afternoon, Art and I hire a trike to take us back to our hotel to shower, rest and write. We ask our driver to pick us up at 6:15 for the return ride back to town.

Chess Game, Banaue
Banaue City

Banaue City Cafe

Video Game Arcade, Banaue

Our trike is waiting for us at the appointed time to take us into the town meet our family at the Las Vegas restaurant, just across from the Greenview Guesthouse.  I have come to expect little from the food but surprisingly this meal is reasonably good. John and I are trying to be vegetarian, but tonight, following Marky’s lead, I choose a saucy chicken dish and we order a bottle of wine for $400 pesos ($9) that tastes rather like a fruity “Thunderbird.” 

Las Vegas Restaurant, Banue City

John, Marky, Karaoke Bar

John, Art, Karaoke Bar

Marky, Karaoke Bar

Not ready to call it a night, we walk up the street to a Karaoke Bar. The bar is on the second story of a rickety wooden building with a plank floor and wood shutters thrown open wide. The mountain air is cold and damp and Art who is looking forward to a real drink is disappointed that the bar serves only beer.  We order beers and Marky shows us how to operated the karaoke machine and soon Marky, John and Art are singing away. Joe and I are more timid but I eventually decide to try my skills at “On The Road Again,” and completely humiliate myself. An hour later, the boys walk back to their lodge and Art and I take a tricycle back to our hotel.

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